World Specialty Silicas
World demand to rise 5.6% per annum through 2018
Global demand for specialty silicas -- which include precipitated silica, silica gel, silica sol, and fumed silica -- is forecast to grow 5.6 percent per year through 2018 to 2.9 million metric tons, valued at just under seven billion dollars. This will represent an acceleration from the pace of the 2008-2013 period, as improved manufacturing levels in a stronger economic environment support faster gains in the developed countries of North America and Western Europe. Growth in specialty silica demand in these regions will further benefit from increased use of silica in tire treads. Continued economic advances in developing countries such as China and India will also bolster gains in demand for specialty silicas.
Rubber to be fastest growing market
Rubber is the largest market for specialty silicas and is also expected to be the fastest growing through 2018. Tire rubber represents the largest portion of the rubber market, and represents the single largest application for specialty silicas worldwide. Usage of specialty silicas in this market has benefited from the rising adoption of green and high performance tire technologies, which use precipitated silica in tire treads to improve properties such as rolling resistance and traction. Several countries, including Japan, South Korea, and the EU, have introduced tire labeling regulations in recent years, inflating demand for silica in tires. Similar regulations could be adopted in the near future in countries such as Brazil and the US. As such regulations are implemented and consumer awareness of green tires grows, consumption of specialty silicas will rise in turn. Solid growth in demand for specialty silicas is also projected in the chemicals and industrial processing markets as manufacturing activity increases in a healthier economic climate.
Strong growth expected for precipitated silica
Precipitated silica will remain the most significant specialty silica product, representing over two-thirds of the global total in 2018. Precipitated silica owes its dominant market size to its use in the tire rubber market, where it accounts for the entirety of specialty silica demand. Because of the strong growth expected in this market, precipitated silica is forecast to be the fastest growing specialty silica product through 2018. Silica gel is projected to register the slowest advances through 2018, reflecting its usage in relatively mature applications such as food and beverages and cat litter. Gains in demand for silica sol will benefit from gains in manufacturing applications such as refractories and textiles. Demand for fumed silica will increase at an above average rate, supported by fast growth in non-tire rubber demand.
Asia/Pacific region to offer best growth opportunities
The Asia/Pacific region held the largest share of the global specialty silicas market in 2013 and is expected to post the fastest growth through 2018. This is primarily due to the performance of the sizable Chinese market, which will account for 63 percent of the regional total in 2018. In addition to advances associated with a rapidly expanding domestic economy, China’s market for specialty silica will benefit from the rising export demand for silica in green tires. Central and South America and the Africa/Mideast region will both post solid growth in demand for specialty silicas through 2018, reflecting the significant potential for economic development in these regions.
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